Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Two Years Ago Today...

I'll never forget the chain of events that changed my life over two years ago.  It was the second weekend in August when my cousins came to visit us on vacation.  My sister and I share a room in our summer home and my cousin was hanging out with us.  Somehow she started asking questions about our adoptions and my sister confessed to knowing a lot more than I did.  She had found our paperwork a few years before and there was a lot more in the paperwork than my parents had ever mentioned.  Three days later we went home and as soon as my parents left to run an errand, we ran upstairs to the office space and she found the files tucked away in the back of a file cabinet.  We both read through our non-identifying information.  It took her a lot longer because she had a lot more than I did, including names.

I wrote everything down on a tissue and brought it with me when I moved to school the next day.  I started Googling all sorts of combinations based on the tissue but couldn't come up with anything.  I figured I'd wait and try again somewhere down the line.  It was my senior year after all and I had lots of other important things to do.  Yet somehow, I stopped sleeping.  I'd toss and turn all night, wondering about the mysterious people from my past, wondering who they were and what the non-identifying information meant.

I'd never imagined my biological father before.  I figured nobody knew who he was.  That paperwork made him a very real person.  My biological mother had been this mythical figure, and now I had a piece of paper with her handwriting on it.  Her honest to goodness handwriting.  Amazing.  But what did it all mean?

The first week of January I went to New Orleans.  I lost it in front of a group of virtual strangers.  It was the day my parents brought me home and nobody from home remembered.  For the first time in years, I wasn't home with them.  I was devastated.  When I explained why I was so upset to the group, thinking that nobody would get it, I was met with understanding and support.  They may not have "got" it but they vowed to be there for me anyway.  And that's when I decided to give my search another go.

I gave myself a week to make sure it was what I wanted to do, and I hit the search hard.  Finally, I paid for a report that would give me a list of all the women born in my biological mother's birth state on that day with her first name.  I figured I'd get maybe five or six women and I'd track them down until I found the right one.  The report came back the next morning with two names.  One was clearly my first mother.  And the report had a list of related people, one of whom shared the same first name as my biological father.  I was able to confirm they were one and the same person, so I had his name too.  A few hours later, Google gave me information I'd waited for my entire life.  My biological parents had married at some point and had two more children, little girls who were seven and ten years younger than me.  Amazing.  I found them all on Facebook.  For the first time in 22 years, I saw pictures of people I looked like.  I saw my face in my little sister's.  I cried and laughed at the same time.  I looked like somebody.  How cool was that?

I wrote that first letter with shaking hands.  It took me hours.  I wanted it to sound just right.  I scoured the Internet looking for examples of what to say.  I wrote and rewrote three times.  I stayed up half the night.  In the end, I printed it and let it sit a while on my desk.  I signed my name, included my contact information and sealed it in an envelope.

I had an interview the next day for a job I really wanted.  I walked to the interview with the letter in my bag.  I blew the interview because I was so nervous about sending the letter.  I didn't feel badly about the job though because I felt this was more important for my life.  After my interview I walked calmly up to the mailbox.  I looked around, amazing that life in the campus center seemed the same as always.  It was a life changing moment for me, and all my fellow students were going about their normal business.  I looked at the letter one last time.  I took a deep breath.  It was like time stopped and was going in slow motion.  I let the letter go, one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.  I heard the "plop" as it hit the bottom.  I turned and walked away quickly.  It was done.  Now all I could do was wait.

Two years ago today I took that step.  I mailed that letter.  And I'm so glad that I did.  My reunion didn't go the way I thought it would, but nothing in life happens exactly as you expect it.  So happy two-year reunion anniversary to me.  I can't believe I've made it this far!